One of my biggest blessings was meeting the family of Sgt. First Class Riley Stephens, the 2000th soldier to die…

in Afghanistan.

We met Riley’s family, and friends, in the tiny town of Tolar…southwest of Ft. Worth… for my first Starting Over report for Channel 8. I still keep in touch with Riley’s family and I talked to his Dad, Mick, just the other day.

Mick, what is your family especially thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I’m thankful for family. No way I could have gone through this if it wasn’t for them. I know I’m not the same person. First and foremost is JoAnn, she is my angel. She has never wavered. Been by my side. Gives me strength plus that nudge, sometimes a little more then a nudge. Don’t want to mess with her. Lol. She’s there telling me let it go Mick. She holds my hand in silence.

Then there’s my son Ken, Standing by my side. Also understanding . Understanding loneliness. Telling me it’s ok, Dad . Its not worth a #%*# but its ok. Tear in his eyes not for himself but for his old man. My grandkids, my daughter-in law. I am blessed.

Family . I am thankful for those known as the family. Family they are. They are there for us. Stopping by. Just to make sure we are ok. Staying if needed. Help with anything or just to give a hug and a smile. Tell us they were thinking about us. Give a hug and be gone. I can go on and on. There are so many. Our Military family. They are unbelievable. North Carolina Family. Riley was a good judge of character. They are awesome. So I’m thinking it’s family. We are truly Blessed.

Is there a particular thing that comes to mind when you think about Riley on this Thanksgiving?

One of Riley’s favorite sayings. He would look at me say “Dad, it’s all about Family, that is why we do what we do”.

He was so right. I am Blessed.

Mick Stephens, from the town and area around it. Tolar Texas.

Can’t say Tolar unless ya say Tolar Texas . Just goes together.
You have a awesome Thanksgiving Jane.

You too, Mick.

 

If you know, or just see a veteran today, please tip your hat, offer a smile or a handshake, and say thank you.

And if you know a family who has paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation free, well, tell them thank you too.

Click here to watch Starting Over, A Fallen Soldier Part 1.  

In A Fallen Soldier Part 2 Mick Stephens reads the letter that Riley wrote but hoped his Dad would never have to open.

Many thanks,

jane-signature

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